Cell phones as we know them are only a few decades old, and yet it is hard to think about living without them, despite the fact that humankind survived centuries without cell phones.
It isn’t unusual these days to be spending $250 or more a month for your family cell phones. In some families, the cell phone expense may be the second highest monthly bill, after the mortgage or the rent. Doing without other things, from eating out to dental care (in some cases) in order to afford cell phones has become the norm. How did things get so crazy?
Most cell phone users are overpaying for their services in a number of ways. Cell phone plans can be costly in order to cover the expense of that “free” phone that come with them. Steep fees are added when users go over their minutes or their data plan (the average is $.25 per minute for voice). Then there are the users that buy more than they use just for insurance, from $10-$50 a month extra, just to make sure that they aren’t hit with overage fees.
Add in additional services, such as a hot spot or other smart phone options, and the cell phone bill continues to grow and grow. Users who thought they were signing up for $40 a month quickly find themselves with bills three to four times the size.
Having multiple phones in the household, a must if you have a spouse and kids in middle school or above, also adds greatly to the cost. Harried parents simple can’t always monitor the family cell phone usage and often opt to just pay the bills or go with a more expensive plan.
To make things even more confusing and harder for consumers to shop around, the cell phone carriers all market their plans a little differently. Of course, for the most part, consumers still pay the same large bills, no matter how the individual plans approach it all.
There are some ways to save money on your cell phone bill, especially if you are worried about overages. You can take advantage of free calls, texts and images through alternative services, such as Skype Mobile and TextFree.
Many apps and websites will help you keep track of your minutes. Overmyminutes.com will send you a text when you are close to going over your limit.
See if you can take advantage of family and friends networks. If you are a smaller family, you may be able to get a family plan with another small family and split the cost. Most carriers will allow you to do this, even if you are living at different addresses.
Consider a pre-paid phone service plan. Many include texting and internet for one low price. You could spend as little as $10 a month, or $30 a month on average.